Sitting in a forest, listening to the wind whisper through the trees is often a calming experience. It can also be enlightening. With eyes closed and minds open, we can hear the trees talk to us in thoughts and pictures as we lie under them. They are old. They are wise. We can share in their wisdom if we listen carefully.
We call them Tree Spirits. Tolkien immortalized them for us in his Lord of the Rings trilogy. He called them Ents.
The Greeks believed that Dryads, members of the lesser deities known as nymphs, inhabited the trees. Though they often have an incredibly long lifespan, Dryads are mortal. The trees and forests are their homes. Some Dryads live within a tree itself. Others live in close proximity to a particular tree. Each time a tree is born, so is a Dryad. Each time a tree is cut down or dies of natural causes, a Dryad dies. It is the Dryads that bring a sense of life and mystery to a forest.
All trees have a Tree Spirit. If you cannot get to a forest, look for a tree near you, perhaps in a park or your backyard. Touch the bark. Sit under the tree. Let its branches envelop you in its shade. And listen to the wind through the branches. This is the tree speaking to you. Meditate. Ask a question, listen for the answer. It may come in words you recognize. The answer may come as a sense of calm. It may come as an image.
Different trees – apple, oak, hawthorn, etc. – may bring different messages. Apple, for instance, is inclined to immortality. Hazel trees are more inclined to magic and divination. The oak tree is thought to be the doorway to the Faerie, the otherworld, or the spiritual realm. Choose a tree that speaks to you.
Today’s New York state forests are relatively young. But the young have much to say. Looking for new solutions to old problems? Sit in a new growth forest. Old-growth forests are filled with ancient wisdom, but may be a bit harder to come upon. Either way, take the time to listen to the trees.
- Leni Santoro
Images: Leni Santoro
Salem's Moon welcomes many perspectives. The views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of Salem's Moon.